OUR TEAM

Where the Passion Begins

OUR TEAM

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MASTER SANCHEZ

Master Sanchez holds the Rank of 9th Degree Black Belt and has been practicing and teaching martial arts for over 40 years. He teaches private lessons to school owners from Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Connecticut. Mr. Sanchez is an Air Force veteran who reenlisted in the service after 9/11. He taught military personnel on his first and second enlistment. Upon his reenlistment Mr. Sanchez went on to cross train as an Air Force medic. He is also a National Registry Emergency Medical Technician and has studied with the American College Of Sports Medicine. He has designed programs that address the three major components of health and fitness – cardio/respiratory endurance, muscular strength/endurance and range of motion. Mr. Sanchez believes in developing fit, well rounded martial artists.  Master Sanchez partners with Ellington Youth Services bringing martial arts awareness programs to the community.

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AUSTIN SANCHEZ

Austin, more fondly known as Mr. SJ, grew up around martial arts, attending karate classes and tournaments with his dad before he could even walk. Because of this, he took an interest in martial arts early on and became increasingly passionate over time. His goal in life is to now share this art, and all its life lessons with the intention to help children realize and become the best version of themselves through the vehicle of martial arts. Outside karate, Mr. SJ enjoys fishing, watching movies, and listening to a variety of podcasts.  

Where the passion begins

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EDONA SELIMAJ

Edona began her martial arts training at American Karate when she was 9 years old. With hard work and dedication, she currently holds the rank of 3rd Degree Black Belt. Edona's favorite weapon is Nunchaku, and she also loves not only perfecting her sky high kicks, but teaching our students to perfect theirs as well. Edona loves to spend time with her friends, listen to music, and eat good food. Edona loves working with our kids at AK, and watching them grow into amazing martial artists and individuals. 

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EMILY DURHAM

Emily holds the rank of 4th Degree Black Belt. She became an instructor at American Karate in 2007 and taught at the school while studying at UConn, graduating Magna Cum Laude from the university. She then went on to receive her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction in 2013. She taught Social Studies for 5 years before becoming a mom to her two daughters. She credits her achievements to the life lessons that were instilled in her through her training, and looks to share these life lessons and effect change in the lives of others.

JESSICA PATNOE

Jessica Patnoe has been part of the American Karate family all the way back to East West Karate (Mr. Sanchez’s School in Vernon) since she was 6 or 7 years old, and now her daughter Emmy is also a part of American Karate. She currently works for the Stafford Public Schools system, and is also a part time CNA.  She is beyond excited to be a part of this family and can't wait to see all our students strive and achieve great things. She is eager to share her knowledge and to help in anyway she can.

BRIANNA FLORES

Brianna Flores started at American Karate when she was 3 1/2 years old in the Tiger class.  She trained under Mr. Sanchez, Mr. Carney, and Ms. Fetko (currently known as Mrs. D).  She earned her black belt at the age of six and competed in regional and international karate competitions with the School.  She believes that learning discipline and self control at such a young age, has helped her with dance, sports, and excel at school.  She is a second degree black belt and her favorite weapon is Nunchaku.  She is excited to be back with her AK family that has supported her throughout the years

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LAURA SIGNORELLO

Hi! My name is Laura and I am thrilled to be joining the AKC family! My husband, four children, my mom and I live in Ellington and have for the past two years. We love the community and friends we have made. Three of my children attend AKC and my youngest cannot wait to be old enough to be a dragon. I was a primary, or preschool, Montessori teacher for several years and then a middle school special education teacher for a few years. Now, I am lucky to homeschool my children which I love doing. In my free time, I love cooking, hiking, caring for my dogs and chickens and exploring new places. Life is a constant adventure and I look forward to getting to know all you in my newest adventure here at AKC. 

Junior Instructors

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AARUSH KUMAR

DANNY TARASYUK